Three Questions About the Minnesota Timberwolves That Don’t Involve Trades or Draft Picks


Almost all talk surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves, since their season ended on March 12, has been about how they can improve externally. “They should trade for Devin Booker…” or “they should draft LaMelo Ball…”

The Wolves should search high and wide for ways any and all ways to get better but their biggest improvements will have to come from within. Here are three questions that need to be answered, early next season.

1.) Can Towns and DLO improve defensively?

This is the question we’ve been asking ourselves since D’Angelo Russell was acquired by the Wolves back in February. We know that Towns and Russell will provide some excellent offense, but you need to play on both sides of the ball to win in the NBA.

Last season, Karl-Anthony Towns had a defensive rating of 110 and Russell was even worse at 113 (according to Basketball Reference). If this is a new statistic for you, think of it this way. If you played a full NBA game with 5 Karl-Anthony Towns’ dropping back for all of your defensive possessions, his “defensive rating” is the amount of points the 5 KATs would give up.

It’s an offensive league. Both Towns and Russell provide so much fun on that side of the floor, but can we at least ask them to try on defense? If they were to provide any effort at all (especially Towns, who can’t defend in the paint and is often the last player across the court), the defense should (at the least) slightly improve… in theory… right?

2.) Will the real Malik Beasley please stand up?

This question has two parts. First, will Beasley continue to produce like he did last season after being traded to the Wolves? When the Wolves acquired Malik Beasley, they gave him an opportunity he hadn’t had before. In those 14 games, his shooting percentages skyrocketed and so did his production.

Team (per game)GamesMinutesFG%3P%ReboundsAssistsPoints

The jumps he made in field goal percentage are extremely impressive. Are they sustainable? Probably not, but with him finally getting the opportunity to prove himself I would expect him to meet those stats somewhere in the middle. He will continue to be a very productive player.

Second, will he be in a Wolves uniform if/when he does? All we know, is that the Wolves want him back. Even without a guaranteed contract, Beasley showed faith in the Rosas & Co. and arrived at Wolves camp with his teammates this week.

Here is what Jon Krawczynski wrote about Beasley’s contract situation, in the Athletic.

“The Timberwolves say they are respectful of Beasley’s position as an impending free agent. They have indicated that they want him to return after making a trade to acquire him from Denver before the deadline, and Beasley’s decision to attend the voluntary camp implies some level of trust with the organization. It doesn’t guarantee that everything will work out perfectly, but it is a good sign.”

Jon Krawczynski

3. Can Josh Okogie and/or Jarrett Culver develop a three point shot?

Among all qualifying players, Josh Okogie (26.6%) and Jarrett Culver (29.9%) had the first and third worst 2020 season 3P% in the NBA. That’s not what you want from your last two first round draft picks, while you’re trying to run with the high-powered, analytics-driven offenses around the league.

Both Okogie and Culver are known more for their defense and motor, which we have seen flashes of… but they will need to produce on offense to be effective at this level. Okogie is already a solid bench guy, which the Wolves are hoping Culver can become, after a very disappointing rookie season.

Basically, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell need to be much better on defense while Okogie and Culver need a bunch of improvement on offense. It’s weird how that works. All four players will have to improve in their own ways, if the Minnesota Timberwolves are to make any significant steps forward as a team.

I can’t tell the future, but if I could, I’d say Malik Beasley is still in Minnesota when the dust settles. We’ll see what happens with his contract until then.

Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan

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